Love Your Market

In November of 2019, I spoke to a gathering of business leaders on the topic of The Four Essentials of Business. I’ve since then taken the opportunity to write a series of blog posts on the topic, one post for each of the four essentials. The first essential is Brand Identity. The second is a Healthy Culture.  Today’s post is about the third essential: your Market.  

It’s kind of obvious that you have to have a market if you want to have a company. The most successful companies, however, have a satisfied and growing market. (The only entity that I know of that can have a non satisfied market and still continue to grow is the federal government.?) 

The key to satisfying and growing your market is figuring out what they need. Once we do that, and provide it to them, they’ll not only come back over and over, but they’ll also bring their friends with them. Sounds simple in concept, yet I’m amazed at how many companies struggle with this essential. 

Let me give a few examples of companies that have figured out this essential component. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is a die-hard Chick-Fil-A fan, where you say something like, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a chicken sandwich.” They’ll look at you like you have a third eye. These people will wait in line for 35 to 40 minutes… FOR A CHICKEN SANDWICH!!!.

Or how about the Apple crowd? My home is a family divided: Half are Android, the other half are Apple. For my Apple kids, it’s interesting to see them when the new iPhones come out. They don’t care what the specs are, or what the upgraded camera does. They just know they gotta have the new phone. 

What is it about Apple and Chick-Fil-A, and hundreds of other companies that have this kind of following? Again, it’s simple: they’ve figured out how to satisfy their market by providing value that’s greater than the payment given. 

So, the question is, what do you have to do to satisfy and grow your market? Well, it starts with loving them and making them the center of attention. This is a different marketing approach than the one practiced by many, where the company, the product or service is center stage. 

There’s a great tool that helps with this called The Hero’s Journey. I learned about this tool from Joe Boyd at Rebel Pilgrim. You can download it here. The focus of this tool is to help you position your customer as the “Hero”. Way too many companies have a “look at us, look how great we are” message. This approach does not satisfy their market. It doesn’t grow the customer base. Customer’s see right through this “me first” approach. 

Instead, the best companies are the ones who have figured out that their customer is the “Hero”, and their role is that of “Guide”, the one who helps their customer achieve what they want. These companies are OK not being the center of attention.  This is the code that companies like Apple and Chick-Fil-A have cracked. And it works. 

So, if you want a satisfied and growing market, ask yourself, “Are we more about us or them?” Or maybe better yet, ask them. They’ll tell you. It may be the first step to you expanding your market.